family walking on sidewalk

Equity Review and Reform of Sidewalk Petition Program

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Background Equity Analysis Sidewalk Petition Program Survey Summary Sidewalk Petition Program Reform Recommendations

As part of our Strategic Plan, one initiative (Transportation & Transit Initiative 5.1)  is to improve our transportation services and programs to enhance equitable outcomes for all. The City recently evaluated the existing structure of the Sidewalk Petition Program through this initiative. This review followed the guidance in the Raleigh Racial Equity Action Plan and culminated in a staff recommendation to Council for a reform to the existing program that was presented on April 16 during the City Council work session. Staff is now working to implement the program reform and will have further updates later this spring.


The City currently uses two distinct processes to identify where new sidewalks are needed and prioritize funding for those sidewalks:

  • Sidewalks on major roadways (such as Capital Boulevard or Centennial Parkway) are identified and prioritized in the City’s adopted Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan. 
  • Sidewalks on local streets (such as Colleton Road or Old Deer Trail), are identified directly by residents via the Sidewalk Petition Program, which is currently suspended. The Sidewalk Petition Program as currently structured allows residents to ask for (i.e. ‘petition for’) new sidewalks, typically at no cost to themselves or their neighbors 

Equity Analysis

City staff reviewed the program results over the last 10 years to identify whether petitions are generally being received in the areas where sidewalks are missing on local streets. The findings indicate that petitions are not distributed equally in all areas of need. To ensure that sidewalk delivery in all neighborhoods is equitably delivered, the following key findings indicate that reform of the program is needed: 

  • Petitions are underrepresented in the most vulnerable areas and overrepresented in the most prosperous areas.
  • Petitions are underrepresented in areas where a greater proportion of the population identifies as black.
  • Petitions are overrepresented in areas with a larger proportion of white, non-hispanic population. 

The full report documenting the findings of the equity analysis is available for download here. 

Sidewalk Petition Program Survey Summary

Our survey asked about sidewalk preferences and familiarity with the Sidewalk Petition Program. The survey was conducted as part of a Strategic Plan Initiative to review transportation programs through an equity lens. The initiative team reviewed previous program outcomes using data analysis and completed community engagement with this online survey and in-person tabling events per the guidance in the Raleigh Racial Equity Action Plan. The survey targeted neighborhoods that have not historically participated in the Sidewalk Petition Program, but was open to all and received responses from around the city.

The survey ended with a total of 444 participants and 551 comments. This report is a survey summary. You can also view the full survey and all responses and comments.

Sidewalk Petition Program Reform Recommendations

Staff presented the following four key reform recommendations to City Council during their April 16 work session in response to the findings of the data review and community engagement effort: 

  • Shift from a petition-based project list to a data-driven project list that includes all key connections through neighborhoods. 
  • Streamline project scoring for all sidewalk projects based on four categories: equity, safety, transit access, and destination access. 
  • Remove balloting for sidewalks on streets designated in the City’s Street Plan. On undesignated streets, ballot all residents within two blocks (renters and owners). 
  • Allocate 70% of sidewalk funding to major streets (where most transit routes run and most pedestrian crashes occur) and 30% of funding to neighborhood streets. 

Next Steps
Staff is now working to implement the reforms described above and working towards a scored sidewalk list.



Anne Conlon
Transportation Supervisor

Service Categories:
Mobility Strategy and Infrastructure
Related Services:
Sidewalk Petition Program



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